I purchased this car in 1996 from Wolf Chevrolet in Belvidere, IL. Which is one of the dealers that were cut from the sales line in 2009. I had just graduated from high school in ’95 and was looking for a used pickup when I spotted this car sitting on the lot. So after giving the salesman a few more grey hairs on a test drive (as any 19 year old would) and five thousand bucks, which was my life savings back then and probably not the best financial decision I ever made, the little ’66 Nova went home with me. I could only gaze over it and think how cool it was to have a car that previously I would stare at in my fathers photo album or a car magazine because he had a ’66 that was totaled out one night when him and a friend mysteriously struck a parked car back in ’72. After a few years of cruising, I decided to do an engine, tranny and rear end transplant. My dad and I built the engine with some help from my late friend Bob Hayward who took care of the machine work. It has 12 to one compression, Crower valve train including the 304 duration 500 lift hydraulic cam running through ported and polished 461 fulie heads with Manly race flow valves, 3 inch exhaust with Terminator mufflers. The trans is a 400 with the turbo action Cheetah valve body and a Coan 3800 stall converter, the rear is a 10 bolt with Eaton posi, Richmond gears and Moser axles.
After the local racetrack (Byron Dragway) put a restriction on my car for not having a roll cage and at the same time becoming a father of twins, the Nova was put in storage until 2005. I decided to restore the car because it was starting to show its age including the seventies lacquer paint job. The first thing I did was fit it with a new Heidts front stub. There was well over 100 hours into that alone, because I wanted the car to maintain its stock appearance so the inner fenders took a lot of modification. The same thought went to the rear with the stock tubs being widened 2 inches. Springs and Cal track bars moved in and Stockton custom rally wheels with 6 1/2 inches at backspace for accommodating the 275/50 R15 MT drag radials, also the rear end was narrowed 1 inch to prevent tires from rubbing. The engine was freshened up, detailed and reinstalled even though I had built a way badder blower motor like the cool guys always have the older engine just fit the look of the old school garage build stock appearing sleeper and yes I still have the blower motor on stand by just in case I change my mind. I gave special attention to detail to keep the car appearing somewhat original on the outside such as keeping the side molding but removing the black in the middle and painting it body color and installing the restored emblem on the Goodmark hood was a bit tricky – the color was hard, its very close to the original aqua but has more mica and blue in it. I even kept the bench seat. The Finishing Touch in Chicago restored the pot metal, Keystone bumper restored the original bumpers and Neiland Custom Product did a super job on all the powder coating. Also, Chevy II Only supplied me with the many hard to find parts.
– Jason Withers